Swiss pharmaceuticals manufacturer Novartis was denied patent protection for a promising cancer treatment, Glivec, after India's Supreme Court ruled that the latest generation of the medicine failed to meet the nation's comparatively high threshold for novelty. As a result, both biomedical corporations and affordable healthcare advocates are weighing the global implications of this decision.
The most immediate consequence, according to CNN, is that Indian firms producing generic alternatives to Glivec can continue to sell their drugs at one-fifteenth the cost of the name brand medication. More broadly, multinational pharmaceutical corporations fear that this case may set dangerous precedents.
"The worst thing about this is that pharmaceutical companies won't want to partner with Indian pharma or generic players, because they'll be significantly concerned about protection of their intellectual property," industry analyst Navid Malik told Bloomberg. "The government is basically trying to create an industry with no investment as generics don't require much (research and development)."
While the benefits of increased accessibility to affordable medicine throughout the developing world cannot be overstated, some worry that India is trading short-term victories at the cost of long-term innovation. What's more, according to CNN, Novartis and other major manufacturers often have subsidized programs in place to effectively donate the majority of their products to national charities. As a result, offending the IP interests of these companies could cause them to avoid or leave the country for both commercial and charitable purposes.